Embracing our Ambition

Embracing our Ambition

“She is SO ambitious!”

Ambitious women are hard. They are the well-dressed ones in heels with dark lipstick and perfect hair. They spend more money on clothes than I spend on groceries. They smile a lot at people in power. In fact, they only smile at people in power. They steal your ideas to look good.  They are basically evil.

Women we want to be friends with at the office are not ambitious. Because the ambitious women don’t have friends.

Wow. Do we subconsciously victimize ambitious women?

If we embrace our ambition while retaining our values and finding meaning in our work (rather than an exclusive focus on financial gain), ambition is the rocket fuel for a stellar career.

In the spirit of Women’s Month, I reached out to Razia Adam of the company Business Mentorship and Career Advancement, to discuss ambition. Razia is highly qualified (MSc (MRM), MAP (INSEAD), BSc Geology Honors) and has also been a winner of the 2017 Standard Bank Rising Star in Mining and Minerals.

The Meaning Coach: Razia, what is your purpose in life?

Razia Adam: My purpose in life is to serve, I realised that I find my happiness and fulfillment in serving people and changing their lives positively. I don’t like seeing people suffering or not having sufficient in their lives, when I know I can assist.  I will go all out even if I leave my own cup empty, even if they don’t appreciate my efforts, l feel fulfilled and content.

The Meaning Coach : Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?

Razia Adam: My friends laugh when I tell them that I see myself owning at least two mines that are digital and fully automated. In these mines, the majority of the employees will be female Millennials. I want a predominantly female workforce because when you feed a woman, you feed a nation. Women and Millennials are not given equal opportunities to lead in the mining sector, which is still an older man’s world. I believe that younger women will excel in mining, and I cannot wait to prove this in my own mines. By empowering women and millennials to be shareholders, they will be free to be themselves and take these mines to great heights in terms of safety, production rates and revenue.

The only person who believes I can do this and who encourages me to achieve these huge goals, is my mother. She knows me better than anyone else and she knows that what I put my mind and heart into, I always succeed. That is my 10 year plan and I will make it real for myself and for the good of South Africa. 

The Meaning Coach: A lot of women are afraid to be labelled “ambitious”. Why should we overcome this fear and go for it?

Razia Adam: One thing I realised in life is that if people want to shrink you or diminish your sparkle, they will use such a word to label you. There is an assumption that it’s a bad thing to be ambitious, but you have to be ambitious because it gives you direction and leads you to achieving goals and being successful. An ambitious person is unapologetic – it signifies that you are a goal getter and a dreamer who won’t let anyone or anything get in your way. Only people without a plan hand out these labels. Keep planning; keep your vision boards alive; keep dreaming and keep aiming to achieving your goals, and whilst doing that, switch off the noise around you and never seek validation from those who don’t understand your dreams or your drive. They will certainly not give you what you need to move forward in life. 

The Meaning Coach: What values and vision guide you while you climb the corporate ladder?

Razia Adam: Integrity; respect for all; trustworthiness, Make sure you know your work and be authentic. People follow and listen to those whom they see are real and true to themselves and most importantly, lead by example, because a leader is someone who shows you the way and walks the talk. 

The Meaning Coach: What advice would you give others who are ambitious?

Razia Adam: Never stop being ambitious, but also put some goals and timelines to the dreams you want to achieve. What I do is to I review my 10 year career spreadsheet with my mentor and coach at least once a year to make sure I am still on track. I need a strong person to hold me accountable to my commitments. I also keep a vision board, the traditional vision board which I used to do even whilst in high school. There is no better feeling than looking at my vision boards and seeing that everything and every picture I had pasted in the past had been achieved through prayer, working smart, and being ambitious and goal driven. It is like the Universe responds when you put it on paper and paste it to your mirror. Get yourself a mentor or coach who will guide you and stay focused, and yes you might lose track here and there but be able to go back and dust yourself and keep it moving…….

The Meaning Coach: Thank you Razia, you have given me a lot of food for thought, and I hope that those reading this will feel encouraged and uplifted. You have a very active presence on Linked-in and other social media and I recommend interested people follow you: https://www.linkedin.com/in/razia-adam-pr-sci-nat-39a91921/

My discussion with Razia reminds me of one of my favourite quotes from Sheryl Sandberg in her book “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead”:

“Taking initiative pays off. It is hard to visualize someone as a leader if she is always waiting to be told what to do”

Razia is not waiting for permission to succeed, she is taking charge of her career, and in so doing she is building her future one vision board at a time. That is something to be proud of rather than demonized.

Self-coaching practice:

This week, get in touch with your inner ambition. The following guide from Psyche magazine is really excellent. It has a discussion of the problem women face in getting promoted both from their own self-limiting beliefs as well as the strictures of the organization. It also has some great tips to set yourself up for success.


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